2/27/15, 11:00 AM
Bill Self is 14-8 all-time against Texas
But the Longhorns are just 3-7 in their last 10, falling out of the race with a four-game skid that began in late January. The advanced metrics are kind to Texas. The Longhorns entered the weekend 21st in KenPom.com’s efficiency ratings, with an offense and defense that rank among the top 40 in the country. But it hasn’t translated to wins. Freshman center Myles Turner, who is still coming off the bench, had 25 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Texas Tech on Feb. 14. But he’s averaged just 6.5 points in the Longhorns’ last two games — losses to Iowa State and West Virginia. To salvage its season and earn an NCAA Tournament bid, Texas likely will need two victories in its last three games — at least. But a victory in Allen Fieldhouse would go a long way. “They’re playing well,” Self said. “They’ll be hungry playing us for high stakes on Saturday.”
Keys to the game for Texas
Come out swinging. A Big theme in Texas’ countless losses in Big 12 play is the Longhorns falling well behind early, only to make a solid push and come u short in the end. It’s already a rarity for Kansas to drop conference games at home, much less, blow big leads. If Texas gets down big early, it’s safe to go ahead and assume another L is going to show up on the schedule.
Leave no breathing room on the perimeter. In the first meeting between the two, Brannen Greene lit Texas up from the perimeter after hitting 4-5, which played a huge role in Kansas taking control of the momentum and pulling ahead in Austin. The Jayhawks are the highest percentage shooting team from the perimeter in the Big 12 at 40 percent. If Texas has any hopes of an upset today, they simply can’t allow the Jayhawks to go wild from deep and give a raucous Kansas crowd reason to celebrate.
Dominate inside. Texas has a clear size advantage on the Jayhawks. Whether or not they actually decide to capitalize on it in another thing, but with Ellis being the only interior force having much success lately, Texas attacking inside and getting Ellis in some foul trouble would not only hurt the Jayhawks offensively, but make the lives of Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner much easier on offense.
Pray. Texas hasn’t won a game in Phog Allen Fieldhouse since Jan. 22, 2011, and being fresh off of three-straight losses isn’t necessarily a proven formula for stealing one a game in one of college basketball’s most hostile environments. Texas will need to play a great game, as well a have some answered prayers from the basketball gods to see their losing streak end tonight.
Texas is desperate. They need this win and getting it would serve as a huge boost to their tournament resume. But Kansas wants their 11th straight Big 12 title and won’t allow themselves to lose ground in that chase in front of their home crowd against a slumping Longhorns team on the edge of the tournament bubble.
There are players who respond to positive reinforcement, players who require constant communication, and players who thrive in silence, left alone to self-correct.
Then there is a Mason, the 5-foot-11 sophomore who requires a more abrasive type of communication.
“He’s ridiculously stubborn,” Self says.
To properly motivate Mason, Self says, he simply must tell him that he cannot do something. If Mason isn’t attacking the basket with enough aggressiveness, for instance, Self will tell his point guard that there is no way he can beat his man off the dribble. If Self believes Mason is slacking on defense, he needs only to issue a direct challenge.
“All you got to do is say, ‘You can’t stop him,’” Self says.
…For the moment, Self would like to see more emotion from his point guard. And as March approaches, there are signs that Mason is making incremental progress in this area. Well, there are small clues. Mason talked about his next challenge — guarding Texas’ Taylor.
“I have to get emotional with him early,” Mason said.
As Mason spoke, his voice remained monotone, his face rather stoic. He was speaking about playing with more emotion, but perhaps that emotion could wait until the game.
“I wish he’d let his personality show a little more,” Self says. “That’s how he is all the time. When he’s happy, he’s stone-faced, and when he’s down, he’s stone-faced.”
The trio of Cliff Alexander, Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas combined for 0-for-3 shooting with 3 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block and 2 turnovers.
“Our bigs got a goose egg (in field goals). Forty-two minutes and a goose egg,” Self said after the game. “They’ve all had a chance to play. We’ve got to find some way … and if you’re not going to score — which is fine if you’re not going to score; that’s been an Achilles’ heel all year long — at least be a defender and a rebounder.
“But we’ve got to improve in that spot, but it’s a team spot, and it’s not just one individual.”
For Alexander, it was just the latest game in a frustrating stretch. The freshman picked up four fouls in 10 minutes, with Self admitting a couple of those were questionable calls.
“They were unlucky fouls,” Self said. “But I think keeping him out of foul trouble where he can play with more of a reckless abandon would be something that would help him a lot.”
Self will continue to start Alexander, though he believes the former McDonald’s All-American played with better energy earlier in the year coming off the bench.
Traylor, meanwhile, played the last six minutes against K-State with his defender constantly sagging off him to double-team Ellis down low.
“When it became a grind-it-out, slugfest kind of game, it was pretty much a crowded house whenever (Ellis) tried to catch it on the post,” Self said. “We have to do things to get him to the post without him starting on the post.”
Shortly after retiring from the Utah Jazz in 2006, the 7-foot-2, 280-pound center returned to his childhood roots by playing adult recreational hockey. He skates in a beginner-level league on Wednesdays and an intermediate-level league on Thursdays at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“One day, I just decided to go find something to do besides playing golf every day,” says the 41-year-old Ostertag. “I was lucky to have a guy in Utah send me a pair of skates. Then I went to a rink, started skating around, and, once I got my feet under me again, I got into a league. I’ve been doing it ever since.
“I don’t do it to stay in shape. I do it because it’s fun. I love playing hockey, and I love being around the guys. I’d do it five days a week if I could and if I had time.”
In just his second game with the 76ers, Thomas Robinson's spark off the bench helped lead his new team to a 89-81 win over the Wizards, Friday.
Robinson was acquired on waivers from the Nuggets on Tuesday.
He made the most of limited playing time on Friday, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in just 13 minutes. That included a five-point outburst in just three minutes of action as the Sixers iced the game in the fourth quarter.
Ben McLemore scored 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting (10-of-12 FTs) with four rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer in Friday's loss to the Spurs.